Vesterheim Youth Programs

Youth and Family Classes

Folk Art School

We’re excited to take creative young minds on an adventure, exploring traditional Scandinavian folk arts, language, and culture with after school classes and online adventures through Vesterheim Folk Art School. Class options include various folk-arts like rosemaling and woodworking, friluftsliv (outdoor activities), book groups, Norwegian language and culture, and more.

Vesterheim’s Youth and Family Classes give young people a chance to be creative, have fun, meet new friends, enjoy family time, and start a life-long love for folk art. All of the instructors are experts in their craft and have experience working with young people.

Find complete info, dates, cost, and registration options here!


(Children's Hour)

Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) is back at Vesterheim!

Vesterheim welcomes preschoolers and their caregivers to Barnetimen. Connect with Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim’s Collection Manager, to explore objects in the museum’s collection and make art inspired by those objects. This free, monthly program for preschoolers and their caregivers encourages exploration and creativity.

Barnetimen meets in the lobby of the museum’s Main Building on the third Tuesday of the month, September through April, from 10:00-11:00 a.m. It is geared toward 3-5 year olds, but all ages are welcome. No reservations are needed, but larger groups of 10 or more are asked to contact the museum the day before the program to help with planning.

Barnetimen 2022-2023 (Check back for monthly program themes)
September 20, 2022 – Dragons
October 18, 2022 – Weaving
November 15, 2022 – Dolls
December 20, 2022 – Juletrefest, Norwegian Christmas Tree Party
January 17, 2023 – Mittens
February 21, 2023 – Silver Jewelry
March 21, 2023 – Rosemaling
April 18, 2023 – Spoons

Enjoy some previous online Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) programs on Vesteheim’s YouTube channel!

For information about Barnetimen, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Collection Manager, 563-382-9681,

Barnetimen is supported by generous gifts to the Vesterheim Annual Fund from David and Brenda Carlson and Jim Clarke at Norwegian Mutual Insurance Association.

Pioneer Immersion Program

and Exhibit of Projects

Vesterheim’s Pioneer Immersion Program is an innovative cooperative effort between the museum and area schools.

The Pioneer Immersion Program uses the Norwegian-American experience as a jumping-off point for exploring the experiences of other immigrant groups during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students use artifacts, archival materials, and hands-on activities to gain a better understanding of what it meant for immigrants to journey from their homelands and establish new lives in America in the past and how that experience compares to those of immigrants today.

The program includes instruction in the school classrooms and a series of Vesterheim visits in which students explore the museum and participate in several pioneer activities.

Prior to their visits to the museum, the students create immigrant identities for themselves, using immigrant diaries, documents, and other sources. The students record their impressions and thoughts in their own journals as they take part in packing an immigrant trunk, constructing a “log” home, and completing a series of typical chores.

Along with their journals, students create projects related to immigrant experiences and pioneer history, and they often enlist the help of parents, grandparents, and other family and friends in doing so, making it a valuable intergenerational experience. Students have a week-long exhibition of their projects and journals at Vesterheim each May.

The Pioneer Immersion Program is the optimal blend of object-based learning, national education standards, local curricula, and fun. The teachers and museum staff begin with the common goal of providing student-centered activities, and the result has been positive and engaging concrete experiences that facilitate critical thinking and creativity.

Supported by generous gifts to the Vesterheim Annual Fund from Voltmer, Inc., Ruth and Randy Schultz, Joanne Voltmer, and the Depot Outlet.

For more information about the Vesterheim Pioneer Immersion Program and how your school can participate, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Youth Educator, 563-382-9681, ext. 219,

WOW (Window on the World)

Farm Program

The WOW Program, which developed in partnership between Vesterheim and the Decorah Community Schools, helps students understand change over time through the exploration of historic agricultural tools and processes. The program features intergenerational hands-on activities and discovery.

Area third graders and their parent or grandparent guests use nineteenth-century agricultural technology and machinery to press apples, make rope, shell corn, and hand-thresh grain. They also learn about Decorah’s past through study of historic photographs and hunt to find tools in the museum’s Painter-Bernatz Mill.

For more information about the program, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Youth Educator, 563-382-9681 ext. 219,